Title: A serious case of murder
By Author: Tamara Shaffer
Tag line: Lily Blaine’s love of houseplants had gone to her head…
Police characters: Detective Janice Pinkton, Detective Martin Owen
The gist: Lily Blaine was found dead in her apartment, her head bludgeoned with a large potted plant that now lay shattered on the floor along with the soil and wilted white blooms of a cereus, a night blooming plant. The detectives found no signs of forced entry. The ME set the time of death at about midnight. She was found by the building manager, who called the police and also her next of kin on file, Rudy Blaine. Rudy was her current husband. Neighbors had complained of loud arguments between the two.
Niece Mimi arrived and was told of her aunt’s demise. Mimi claimed she saw her aunt just yesterday morning when she stopped by with pastries. She told police she had come to discuss the trust fund that her aunt was setting up for her and her brother. Mimi also told police that Lily and her current husband were quarreling over money. She added that it was the same situation with Lily’s first husband. Mimi told the police that her aunt had a new boyfriend and that he seemed to be a nice guy.
Just then her brother appeared, Robert. Robert claimed he stopped in for tea yesterday afternoon and to help his aunt arrange her many plants. Aunt Lily loved her plants. Robert stated Lily was going on about her plant with the big white flowers. Both Mimi and Robert claimed to have been home alone the night before.
The detectives began calling on the husbands and the current boyfriend. Husband number one said he was home alone watching TV the night before. He added that he loved being alone after being married to that nag Lily, and it was the happiest day of his life when she remarried. Lily’s current husband actually laughed when he spoke to the detectives. He said the last time he saw Lily was yesterday in his attorney’s office. He added that he hated her, but wouldn’t kill her. Lily’s current boyfriend was upset and crying. He said they planned to marry and that last night he spoke to Lily and she said she was tired, so he went home after work and stayed there.
Detective Pinkton said that one of the suspects planted a self-incriminating clue. What was it?
Crime scene: Lily’s home.
Clues: Night blooming plant.
Suspects: The niece, the nephew, the two ex-husbands, and the current boyfriend.
Red herrings: None.
Solution: The nephew lied. He was at his aunt’s home at night, not in the afternoon. He mentioned the plant’s white flowers which only bloom at night. He wanted his trust fund sooner rather than later.
My two cents: This was a tightly written story that followed the plant theme throughout. The male detective confused ‘serious’ with ‘cereus’, the word serious is in the title, and in the end Det. Pinkton talked about a clue being planted. Even the tag line works.
The police work was spot on. I could find no problems with it. The characters were portrayed nicely. You could see the different personalities with just a few words. The story was paced well, and it was an enjoyable read. Ms. Shaffer even gave us 5 suspects.
Well done, Tamara.